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OCCUPY! Zuccotti Park Raided by NYPD, Top Aid to Oakland Mayor Resigns…..and I Talk Occupy on NBC’s The Filter

November 15th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


NYPD CLEARED ZUCCOTTI PARK OF OWS PROTESTERS AND TENTS AROUND 1 AM TUESDAY MORNING…PROTESTERS DID NOT GO HOME, AT 4 AM EVERYBODY WAS STILL IN THE STREET

The New York Times reports:

Hundreds of New York City police officers began clearing Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early Tuesday, telling the people there that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” before the morning and that any demonstrator who did not leave would be arrested….

The best coverage was on Twitter and the several live feeds coming from the moving sites of the protest.

Once among many disturbing notes as the early morning wore on, was the report that press covering the situation were told they would lose NYPD press passes if they didn’t vacate the area, according to a videographer who told what he witnessed on the UStream live feed that was on the Reuter’s site.

WBAI, the Pacifica station, has been broadcasting calls from the park.

Twitter was also full of reports of press being turned away. Mother Jones reporter @JoshHarkinson was one of those who was able to slip in and was tweeting actively, but said that he was one of the few.

This is one of several videos of police and protesters that look alarming


OAKLAND MAYOR JEAN QUAN’S LEGAL ADVISER AND OLD FRIEND RESIGNS MONDAY OVER HER HANDLING OF OCCUPY

The San Francisco Chron has the story. Here’s how it opens:

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s chief legal adviser, a longtime friend, resigned Monday after what he called a “tragically unnecessary” police raid of the Occupy Oakland camp.

Dan Siegel was one of two aides to defect from Quan’s administration Monday. Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu also quit, but said her resignation had nothing to do with the police sweep.

Siegel, a civil rights attorney and one of Oakland’s most active and vocal police critics, said the city should have done more to work with campers before sending in police.

“The city sent police to evict this camp, arrest people and potentially hurt them,” Siegel said. “Obviously, we’re not on the same page. It’s an amazing show of force to move tents from a public place.”

Siegel strongly opposed any plan by the city to take down the month-old camp in the days leading up the police raid.

Oakland has become “the most hostile city to the Occupy movement,” he said Monday. “Where else are they having 600 police officers take down some tents?”

By the way, putting those 600 cops on the street–many of which were borrowed from 13 outside law enforcement agencies—cost the city $500,000.


I WAS NBC’S THE FILTER WITH FRED ROGGIN ON FRIDAY…TALKING ABOUT OCCUPY

The Filter with Fred Roggin is always an enjoyable show for me to do, and I was happy to get to talk about the Occupy movement. However, be forewarned that, when we taped, I chatted quite volubly, thus the final segment required some substantial snipping which left most of my lighter comments, so I may sound as though I was trivializing Occupy, which wasn’t the case. But perhaps not. Watch and you tell me.

At the very least, you will get to hear me fearlessly mangle the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man.


OCCUPY LA TO BRING IN SOCIAL WORKERS TO HELP HOMELESS WHO HAVE JOINED ENCAMPMENT

This is a very smart idea. The AP has the story.

Occupy Los Angeles is taking a new tack in trying to grapple with the nettlesome issue of the homeless people who have moved into the tent village—social workers.

Volunteer social workers are scheduled to visit the camp surrounding City Hall on Saturday in a bid to help some of the more troubled residents, possibly moving them to facilities better equipped to deal with their problems, said organizer Darren Danks.

“We love their support, but there’s a percentage who need social services,” he said Monday.

The Occupy movement, formed as a protest of government economic policies perceived to favor the rich, operates with an all-are-welcome policy, and organizers will even try to find a tent for those who lack one. But they admit the homeless have been an unanticipated challenge that has diverted the focus from political activities to keeping internal order.

“It’s created disorder in the encampment,” said organizer Clark Davis. “It’s sort of weakened our stance.”

An influx of mentally ill and drug addicted homeless moved into the 485-tent camp soon after it sprang up six weeks ago, drawn by its free meals, toilets and showers, and a largely tranquil community free of police harassment and the strict rules of shelters that many homeless people dislike.

The camp’s location at City Hall is only blocks away from Skid Row, where some 800 people bed down on sidewalks nightly and 1,000 others sleep in shelters.


JEFFREY SACHS SAYS THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT AIN’T GOING AWAY BUT MAY USHER IN A NEW ERA OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICS

From the NY Times over the weekend, a very intriguing read. Here’s a clip:

OCCUPY WALL STREET and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent…..


MATT TAIBBI DIDN’T GET OCCUPY, NOW HE DOES

Here’s a clip from the middle of the essay by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi , but read the whole thing.

….There’s no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape. You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it’s 10,000 feet down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.

That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don’t know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.

There was a lot of snickering in media circles, even by me, when I heard the protesters talking about how Liberty Square
was offering a model for a new society, with free food and health care and so on. Obviously, a bunch of kids taking donations and giving away free food is not a long-term model for a new economic system.

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something…


Photo by Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency, Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

Posted in Occupy | 3 Comments »

A Report From Occupy London from LA Poet Gail Wronsky

November 7th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


The wonderful poet Gail Wronsky is in London for a semester
and has been tracking the Occupy movement that’s been unfolding in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Over the weekend, around 700 Occupy Londoners marched to Westminster, some British politicians joining them, prompting arrests.

Gail visited the St. Paul’s Occupy camp in the days before the march, after the Mayor of London had given the Occupiers an eviction notice. Then, following a flood of public pressure and some negotiations, the Mayor climbed meekly down from his position and said that Occupy London could stay until just after the New Year. Occupy London organizers, however, have tentative plans to stay until the Olympic Games begin in the summer of 2012.

Here’s Gail:

“NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCOUNT TENTS”
Freezing outside St. Paul’s with Occupy London

by Gail Wronsky

They’re more literary than we are, the Brits, as the bit of signage I’ve quoted in the title rather deliciously shows. There’s a matchmaking service here for singles who love Shakespeare! And they’re gloomier. In London, The Biography Peter Ackroyd quotes Pierre Jean Grosley’s remark that “melancholy prevails in London in every family, in circles, in assemblies, at public and private entertainments . . .” So clearly I should not have been expecting celebratory scenes from Hair when I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral to check out the Occupy London tent city. Maybe it’s the ubiquitous gray mist, or the cold, or the eating of red meat—

I’m an Angeleno teaching in London for a semester, and trying to pack in as much traveling as I can around my classes. My first encounter with the Occupy Wall Street movement happened to happen in Istanbul. I hadn’t been aware of what was going on in New York, so I was stunned when I got off a trolley in the Sultanamet neighborhood and saw a group of 10-15 people, men and women, mostly young, holding signs that said, “We Support the American Revolutionaries,” “Occupy Wall Street,” “Occupy Istanbul.” It was thrilling, actually, to find out what people were up to. This particular group was terrifically energized, too, the air around them sizzling with life and hope. Memories of the anti-Viet Nam War era cascaded happily through me.

But this isn’t 1973 or Ann Arbor, Michigan. Back in London, there are over 200 tents outside St. Paul’s. And the British, as many have observed, even the young ones, are a fairly melancholy tribe. Signs saying “Stay Calm and Move Forward,” the ultimate slogan of imperialist hauteur, are posted amid signs calling for an end to capitalism. This is a generation (I know because I teach them) that sets up infrastructure before plugging in their guitars and cranking up the amps.

Occupy London has a first aid tent, a legal advice tent, an IT tent, a massage tent, a food compound with an elaborate volunteer schedule, a meditation tent. Where was the ideology tent? The Karl Marx reading group? When I visited, someone with a microphone led a discussion about personal space and not being judgmental. It was cold. It didn’t seem as though anyone was having fun. It reminded me, in fact, of a meeting of the Topanga Elementary P.T.A. with all the talk about “boundaries,” and “non-hierarchical structure.” How could this group possibly have any effect or influence among the marble-encased, ridiculously bewigged legal mucky-mucks of this city, much less among the bullet-proof Lear jet corporate heavyweights? I want desperately for a charismatic leader to rise up among them and give everyone focus and conviction, and yet, as Chuck, my companion on this excursion said, “if someone like that did appear, they wouldn’t accept him or her.” They’re really trying to do it in a new way.

Somehow I think, like many other people do, that in their gentle and respectful ways they will accomplish something. They do, I dearly hope, represent the start of a significant political sea change. They’re there. And maybe that’s all they really need to be for now. May Mahatma Gandhi’s grace light their way.

The truly weird thing about the London occupation so far is the effect it’s had on the Anglican church. Already three clerics, including Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser, have resigned because a group of kids, basically, is camping outside! What a spectacular over-reaction! Kind of unfigurable. It’s like leaving your marriage because the garbage wasn’t collected on Thursday, right? And yet . . . watching these men on the telly, I find myself admiring them. Here are three middle-aged guys with no pensions, no real marketable skills, in a country with epidemic unemployment, quitting their jobs because Christianity means certain non-negotiable things to them, one of which is a commitment to nonviolence. They quit because they refuse to be part of something, the eviction process, which may lead to a violent encounter between protesters and police.

Working at a Catholic school (Loyola Marymount University) I understand that there are complex, and no doubt seriously hierarchical and political issues behind the scenes here at St. Paul’s. Their first reaction to the occupation was to shut the cathedral doors, doing which, they soon realized, made them look bad. Then there’s the issue of losing tourist revenue (over $200,00 a day, they claim). So, as we say in the states, “it’s complicated.” But the resignations can be seen as heroic, as harbingers of things to come, of consciousness being awakened. I’m hopeful.

Finally, we did encounter a political conversation outside one of the tents. Two gray-haired fellows and a young man with one long trademark dread were trying patiently to listen to a woman who had come, rather obviously, to complain about the occupation. “How can you reject the system and still reap its benefits?” she said, reminding me of all those ad hominem attacks leveled at hippies in the old days (“you want to reject the culture and still have good stereo systems . . . “) The young man said, “We’re in the system. We’re part of the system. We pay V.A.T. We just think things could be done more fairly.” The complaining woman was one of those people who talk and don’t listen, so she kept repeating her mantra. The young man eventually walked away. The older guys stepped in, maintaining a remarkable degree of good-spiritedness.

Ken Livingstone, one of the occupiers, has said, “The Mayor of London’s office has wildly misjudged the issue, making the Occupy movement the enemy but failing to act on public concerns about jobs and growth.” Brilliant. And almost Shakespearian in its rhythms. So, yes, there’s hope, I thought as I caught one delightful whiff of patchouli on my way back onto the tube.

POST SCRIPT:

As of now, the tents remain, although city officials are sifting through ancient bits of small print and survey maps in order to find an excuse to have them moved.
Yesterday, some excrement was found inside St. Paul’s, which has brought on new calls for the annihilation of the encampment. From what I can gather in shops and on public transport, the population of London seems unimpressed. Nine out of ten people assume the stuff was planted by the opposition. They weren’t born yesterday. Public support remains pretty strong.

Posted in Occupy, writers and writing | No Comments »

A Close-Up Look at Slow-Motion Democracy at Occupy LA

October 31st, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


This past Saturday night I became—albeit briefly— a voting member of Occupy LA’s Finance Committee.

I’d been to OLA’s City Hall camp site for a minute or two a couple of times before on my way elsewhere. But on Saturday, I decided all other commitments could wait. My neighbor, the talented journalist, Sam Slovick was spending at least a week in a tent with the Occupiers, uploading regular dispatches for LA Weekly, Huffington Post and Slate.

Heck, even the LA Times’ Steve Lopez spent the night in a tent on the City Hall lawn.

I figured the least I could do was to hang out for a late afternoon and evening.

When I first arrived, my dog in tow, I did what most reporters seem to do at the Occupy sites. I snagged people, snapped their photos, asked them who they were, why they were there, what they did with their days they weren’t out here Occupying. Among those I met were a number of school teachers, a massage therapist, a Marine and his two kids, a retired newspaper reporter, a nurse, a guy who said he used to work for Wells Fargo, but was between jobs, and a venture capitalist. (No, really. I took his card and Googled him when I got home.)

I tried to avoid those who seemed discernibly crazy or extremely high (although my overwhelmed white wolf dog, Lily, seemed to magnetize the latter).

I did talk to the guy with the Boobies Not Bombs sign, but just to complement him on the bright pink bra he was wearing on his head.

After these mini interviews, I wandered over to the Welcome tent, where Occupy LA’s needs list and its itemized weekly budget were posted. This week’s budget amounted to $7509.90, with the $4669 for Porta Potty rentals the largest line item by far. At the welcome tent, I wound up chatting to a high school biology and physics teacher named Jeff who worked at the campsite daily. “Between this and teaching, I’m not getting much sleep,” he said.

Just as I was about to leave and go back to interviewing, Jeff announced that OLA’s Finance Committee was about to have a meeting. Would I like to attend?

I would, I said.

The Finance Committee, which it turned out had just changed its name to the Resource Committee (people are extremely word-sensitive around here), met on the lawn across Main Street from City Hall Park.

About a dozen people of various ages and ethnicities sat in a circle. Among those attending in addition to Jeff the teacher was a 50-ish retired school teacher who said he was still was very active in the union, UTLA, a man who’d founded some LA charter schools, a young woman wearing a pink tutu, whose name and profession I didn’t catch, and several other bright-seeming 20-somethings, who, along with an older, bearded guy named Deacon, looked to be the veterans of the committee.

I hung back a bit, intending only to observe, but I was told that my attendance qualified me as a voting participant. So I moved into the circle too.

It appeared that the mission of the Resource Committee wasn’t so much to decide how money was spent, as it was to determine how OLA’s funds were handled. Once of the first orders of business was to remind everyone that they were NOT, repeat, NOT to promise reimbursements to anyone, that there was an orderly process for reimbursements that had to be followed. In fact, no expenditure at all over $50 could be made without the approval of the General Assembly, or the “GA,” which meant “a minimum turnaround of 24-hours.”

The GA is Occupy LA’s theoretically leaderless and notoriously unruly governing body comprised of anybody and everybody who happens to show up for the nightly 7:30 General Assembly meeting. Each of the Occupy groups around the country, LA included, has roughly the same organizational structure as Occupy Wall Street. The structure includes the GA, plus such organizational tools as the cluster of hand signals used by all Occupiers when votes are taken, and for a variety of other forms of communication during meetings and assemblies.

(The whole hand signal thing was skillfully parodied by John Oliver on a recent segment of The Daily Show. Since I’d seen the parody, I was thankfully already familiar, for example, with the waggly fingered jazz hands gesture that meant I approved of a motion, or wanted to express enthusiasm at something a speaker said. The finger waggling sounds utterly silly when I write about it, but felt curiously unsilly and nearly natural when I actually did my own waggling. Ditto for another gesture I picked up after noticing others using it, which meant I was kinda meh on an idea.)

It seemed the main business that the Resource Committee had to address on this night was where to actually keep the organizations’ money, meaning the cash that OLA collected in donations each day for the running of the camp and any of OLA’s other expenses. As it stood, the funds were being held in the individual bank accounts of four different people—which didn’t strike anybody as the safest of set-ups. Thus the primary business at hand was to figure out what to do instead, and then recommend that course of action to the GA—and hope to heaven that the unruly group passed it.

However to persuade even this far smaller group to pass a resolution proved to be a distinctly labor-intensive endeavor.

In past days there had evidently been some discussion about becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit, which was a nit-picky process that could take more than a year, at best, often longer. So, it was recommended that they’d be best served to do what most beginning organizations do, which is to have some other like-minded 501(c)3 umbrella the designation down to them.

This umbrella suggestion, however, had been previously brought up to the GA and roundly voted down. A young woman on the committee named Claire explained that New York’s Occupy Wall Streeters had done the umbrella thing and there was something about them getting their bank account frozen. (I have no idea if any part of this story is true. In any case, it was enough to rattle the GA.)

Back at the Committee, the non-profit umbrella was brought up again, along with some other strategies, all of which were deemed to require further research.

Finally, it was proposed that while a more permanent solution was found, the money should be removed from the four personal bank accounts and put in a safe deposit box.

Haggling over the pros and cons of using a safe deposit box, and who should have keys to said box, took of most of the rest of the time. Matters were not helped by a late arrival to the group who opined at some length that maybe OLA shouldn’t be renting safe deposit boxes from banks at all, since banks were in fact the enemy. I was heartened when, after about 15-seconds of his harangue, other members of the committee began politely but firmly using the “wrap-it-up” hand gesture.

At several points, the charter school guy, whose name was Bob and who was clearly a man who had run a lot of his own meetings, attempted to convince those gathered that they should not waste time on the safe deposit thingy, but immediately resolve to find a non-profit that would act as an umbrella, and then pitch the whole thing to the GA and make sure the matter got passed. “You need your money to be secure and accessible,” he said. “You need a permanent solution. And you need a solution that is going to make bigger donors feel comfortable. A safe deposit box isn’t going to make large donors comfortable, trust me.”

Everyone listened, then returned to the safe deposit box question.

The meeting had begun just after 6 p.m. By 7:15, he resolution to get a safe deposit box, was getting mostly waggled fingers. (Bob had by this time progressed from Meh, to waggle fingers.) But it also got one “hard block,” from the tutu girl. The dreaded hard block is more than a NO vote, it’s a veto, which is physically demonstrated by crossing one’s forearms and fists over one’s chest.

What followed was another nearly 45 minutes of discussion and an evolving set of confusing and, to my mind, mostly meaningless amendments to the original motion. (The details of and reasons for the amendments are far too labyrinthine to detail here.) Finally—and thankfully—-the safe deposit box measure passed with a unanimous waggle of fingers at 7:58 p.m.

It was also determined that there would be one more committee meeting about the issue on Monday then, after a few more details had been researched, the whole thing would be presented to the GA on Monday night, and a box would hopefully be acquired on Tuesday.

“Democracy is messy,” Jeff whispered to me, after the motion passed.

“I think this might be why the framers of the U.S. Constitution decided on a republic,” I whispered back.

Then, sensing I probably sounded old and churlish, I added, “Hey, birth of any kind is messy.”

“Yeah,” said Jeff, “but if this movement is to stay true, this is how we need to do it.”

After the committee meeting broke up, I listened in on the GA for a while, then decided to wend my way home. Lily the wolf dog and I were tired out by all this Occupying and Democratizing.

Yet, before I Ieft, I spoke again to Charter School Bob (whose actual name is Bob Vanech, and it turns out he does a lot more than charter schools). He told me he’d been coming to the Occupy site almost daily and had spent a bunch of time with the Demands Committee.

“The Demands Committee?”

“It’s the committee that decides what demands Occupy LA is going to make of the mayor, the City Council, and others,” said Bob. “And we’ve got on some great ones! They’ll be rolling out soon.”

So, yeah, the Occupy movement is, in many ways, organizationally unwieldy. Yet certain things are getting done. Hundreds of people are fed at the campsite every day, their basic needs provided for. On Friday night at the GA, one of the collective decisions was to send $500 of OLA’s funds to Occupy Oakland, just to show “solidarity.”

One bearded and charismatic 26-year-old, former medical student, who was on the Resource Committee, and who seemed to be on several of the other significant committees in the camp, admitted the 99 percent movement was very much in its infancy, and its insistence on everyone having a say in everything could be maddening. “But this is the movement I’ve waited for all my life,” he said.

Fine. But will it really sustain itself and grow? And, if so, with its glacially democratic process that sucks up such great gobs of time, will it accomplish anything of consequence?

These are wide open questions.

But still….one can’t help but feel that, despite the messiness something is happening.….

And, call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s going away.


SAM SLOVICK’S wonderful Occupy LA photo, video, narrative series may be found here.


NOTE: THERE’S NEWS ON THE JAIL ABUSE ISSUE. We’ll discuss that all tomorrow.

Posted in Economy, Occupy | 4 Comments »

A Week’s Worth of Occupy Wall Street

October 28th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon



I’ve not commented on Occupy Wall Street because there has been no shortage of coverage, and WitnessLA’s focus has been elsewhere.
However, after the events of this week—in particular Tuesday’ night’s Occupy Oakland situation—it seemed a bit nuts not to spend some time on the 99 percent movement.

On Thursday in California, the OWS news was moving quickly: Talk of a general strike was floated. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan apologized via video—albeit, awfully late, and not very eloquently. After, a scary 36 hours, word was released that Iraq war Marine Scott Olson—who was life-threateningly injured by some kind of allegedly police fired projectile Tuesday night in Oakland—would likely make a total recovery.

Then Friday morning, the LA Times editorial board advised Occupy LA that soon it should stop occupying LA—or LA’s City Hall, in any case:

....It would be best for everybody, including the demonstrators, if the impasse could be resolved without resorting to police in riot gear. Another location for the protest should be found, and if the participants are organized enough to put out a joint statement, they’re organized enough to negotiate a peaceful departure.

(Yeah. Good luck with that one.)

To catch you up on the rest of the week, I’ve gathered a shortlist of OWS news and commentary that you might have missed.


OCCUPY THE WITLESS TV PUNDITS

Slate’s whip smart legal writer, Dahlia Lathwick rants satisfyingly about the TV pundits increasingly weak attempts to dismiss Occupy Wall Street.

Here are some clips:

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.

[SNIP]

Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.

{SNIP

It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

Interestingly, Russia Today, which has been doing cogent reporting on the protests, has no trouble getting it.


TOM MORELLO AND 88-YEAR-OLD MOM SHOW UP (AGAIN) AT OCCUPY LA

For those of you who, like me, sadly missed this moment, Rolling Stone describes it. (Morello didn’t sing for the crowd, but did hand out 175 free tickets for his show at the Troubadour.)


OCCUPY OC: IRVINE CITY COUNCIL VOTES THAT OCCUPY TENTS ARE A FORM OF FREE SPEECH

Late Tuesday night, after a nearly six-hour marathon meeting, the normally hyper-controlling Irvine City Council voted unanimously to let the Occupy group camp in front of Irvine’s city hall for an extended period—and, by all accounts, seemed pleased about doing so. The mayor even rather solicitously offered to gather blankets for the Occupyers.

Here’s a clip from the report at Occupy OC.

The council members each spoke in turn to the civility, articulateness and peaceful process represented by the Irvine Occupation at contrast with the
several other Occupational Villages in California, which were, at that
very moment being tear-gassed. The general sentiment being: “This is quite
clearly the model. And the occupation most in tune with city needs.”

One councilman stated clearly, “I disagree with most of what you’re
saying.
But you’ve clearly shown that this is an issue of free speech. So
if you need to sleep on our lawn… by all means… sleep on our lawn.”

It’s not 100 percent clear how long the Council’s welcome mat will be out, but for the moment, the coming together of the two groups is weirdly heartening.


OCCUPY REDDIT: MARINES COMMENT IN FURY OVER THE WOUNDING OF IRAQ VET SCOTT OLSON

After Marine Scott Olson, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was hit in the head and critically injured allegedly by a police-fired tear gas canister in Oakland Tuesday night, a fellow Marine who signed in as aburger, posted his commentary in photo form on Reddit, and Marines and others streamed in to respond.

When I last looked, the comments were at around 1800 and climbing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Semper Fi. This event, on top of the unprovoked attacks on non-violent protesters, is a game-changer. I look at my local news here in NC, and absolutely no mention of this. There should be outrage, and immediate reaction from civil authorities. While a civil suit is inadequate to address the situation in SF, I hope one is filed immediately in order to assign some accountability to those involved.

long time reddit lurker here…and 3x army veteran who was privileged to be attached to the 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Iraq. This incident really spooked me…gave me “that” feeling, you guys know what I’m talking about.

But this picture, aburger, it sent shivers down my spine. There is so much pain and betrayal in those eyes…and so much power. I have seen an angry Marine NCO before, I know those eyes. Thank you for sharing with us; you are not alone, he is not just a Marine brother- he is a brother of all of us veterans.


OCCUPY SHAME: MOST AMERICANS WHO ARE HURTING ECONOMICALLY FEEL THEY SOMEHOW SHOULD HAVE AVOIDED IT

Tina Dupuy has an interesting commentary about how Americans see themselves. and why OWS is resonating.

Here’s the heart of it:

There’s a bastardized quote attributed to John Steinbeck that says socialism never took root in America because we all think we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires. The actual quote, which Steinbeck wrote in America and Americans, is more pointed, “I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist.”

We’re not really a culture of delusional dreamers who all believe someday we will be wealthy. There are some, sure. Their escapist fantasy involves a windfall and a secluded island. There are also those who (still) actually become rich. But for the vast majority of Americans — the myth is less we are going to be rich — the myth which led us to the extreme wealth distribution debacle we’re now in — is that we’re all homesteaders.

You don’t have to grow your own food, build your own house or “paint your own wagon” To believe you could if you really wanted to. And really, did in some indirect way.

We’re a society full of pioneers, pilgrims and immigrants.

[SNIP]

So when things don’t go our way, we don’t blame outside factors. When we fail, we don’t see that the game is fixed. We tug at our bootstraps and feel anguish at our own deficiencies.

The reason why Occupy Wall Street is resonating still with Americans is because there are those who’ve been living with shame for what they see as not being self-sufficient…enough.

[SNIP]

Occupy Wall Street is letting people who’ve been in the shadows know that they’re not alone and they didn’t cause this. It’s something Americans at their core don’t usually believe….

Posted in Occupy | 1 Comment »

Police Trash Occupy Oakland’s Camp, Crowd Gets Tear Gassed, Iraq Vet Hurt

October 26th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


This rough video taken by a protester gives an alarmingly visceral feeling—minus the choking
—of the chaos of the second round of tear gassing plus use of flash bang grenades* by Oakland Police when Occupy Oakland protesters amassed after the OWL encampment located at Frank Ogawa Plaza was destroyed by police early Tuesday morning.

*NOTE: There is now a dispute about whether the Flash Bangs were used. Oakland police say they were not in use.


UPDATE: IRAQI WAR VET HIT BY POLICE PROJECTILE AND REPORTEDLY IN CRITICAL CONDITION

The Guardian reports on this upsetting story about Scott Olson, who did two tours in Iraq and was now working for a software company and part of the group Veterans for Peace. He now has a fractured skull and brain swelling after allegedly being hit by a police projectile in one of Tuesday night’s incidents.

ABC News also has a report on Olson.


This video from KTUV shows the wide variety of protesters….then the warning from police…..then the firing.

Kristin J. Bender, Scott Johnson, Sean Maher, and Cecily Burt and Angela Woodall writing for the Oakland Tribune are following the story. The San Jose Mercury News has a newsy, cut down version of their reporting. The full coverage complete with interviews with protesters about why they joined OWL in Oakland is here.

A good series of images by J.P Dobrin here.

The New York Times also has a bunch of videos up here.

Mother Jones has a roundup of the day’s and night’s moments at Occupy Oakland—told in Tweets, photos and video.

Posted in Economy, Occupy | 4 Comments »

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